MORE POLICING
In response to David’s letter (SSO 1062), as a member of the gay community, I’m really concerned about bashings on Oxford St, Kings Cross and throughout the inner city.

I want the inner city to be safer. As president of the 2011 Residents Association, I campaigned for better safety in Kings Cross. As the local MP, I will speak up for locals regardless of who is in government.

We need to deal with the source of the violence. Closing all licensed premises on Oxford St at 3am would hurt the gay venues as well as the problem ones. I’d prefer more policing and stronger regulation of problem venues potentially including earlier closing, lockouts and restrictions on serving spirits.

— Dr Sacha Blumen, Labor candidate for Sydney

LOW ACT

To the thieves who stole the rainbow flag out of the Mardi Gras display the night after Fair Day at Soul Hair Art at 636 King St, Newtown:

Thank you for wrecking a display that was done with love, sweat and tears and was meant to represent something,

I hope you are very proud of yourselves (you know who you are) and that each time you look at the rainbow flag you stole, remember how low you are.

— Harry

UNHAPPY VOLUNTEER

This year was my fourth as a volunteer for Fair Day. In previous years, it has been a wonderful experience. This year, however, was quite different. I felt unwelcome and felt I was treated as air.

At the Fair Day briefing, there was a lot of talk about how important we volunteers are. But once on the ‘field’, nothing of it. I don´t think I was met by a smile from any of the higher officials once, not during my Saturday shift, nor during the Sunday (Fair Day) shift.

It was also badly organised and no heart in it. I talked with some other volunteers and they had the same experience.

It seems to me that they now recruit mostly people who are only interested in getting free party tickets — which leads to all these straight kids. If that’s what Mardi Gras wants, then fine.

I didn’t claim any ticket points, I was in it for what I think is the right reason — to give back to our gay society.

Next year, good luck, but there will be one less Fair Day volunteer.

— Jan

WORDS OF ADVICE

As a former director of Mardi Gras, can I give the present board a word of advice that I think would serve them well.

Keep the co-chair speeches to less than 45 seconds.

Those speeches went on and on and on and on and I think you thanked everyone except the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.

Have more bars in the RHI. There used to be four, one in each corner, now it’s two. I waited 30 minutes to buy a drink.

Have a coordinator or a board member responsible for the entry area to the Party. In my day there were 27,000 people who went to Mardi Gras and no queues for the entrance and no queues for the bars other than for a few minutes.

Today 17,000 people go to Mardi Gras and some of my friends waited more than 45 minutes to get into the event with huge queues to get a drink, and what is with the policy of not giving you the top of your water bottle. Next year do we have to smuggle in water bottle tops?

Other than that I think Mardi Gras was great. Well done, New Mardi Gras.

— Paul

NOT HAPPY, JAN

I am writing to express my frustration and anger at the manner in which the ’78er float and the Mardi Gras volunteers were treated at the Parade.

We were the very last entrant with only the volunteers behind us. This in itself seemed strange as some of the ’78ers are now senior and frail and it would have been a challenge for them to wait the four hours before we even moved.

The bus had a music system that was broken but we thought at least we would get the music from the surfers to buoy us along.

Instead, when we reached Whitlam Square we were ordered to stop. Apparently (and no one told us) the surfers were dong a piece to camera for Foxtel so they wanted to keep a space between them and us. Fair enough, you think. However, 20 minutes later and with nothing in Oxford St or Taylor Square we were finally allowed to move.

The consequence of this was that the ’78ers and the volunteers had to walk the entire route in darkness and with no music.

It was the most embarrassing, farcical and tedious experience for all of us.

People were leaving in droves as it appeared that it was all over and no one knew who we were until we got to the BGF stand.

I really felt for the volunteers who had to endure the same experience.

This will be the last time I attend as I do not want to be treated again with this much disrespect and incompetence. I am sure many of the volunteers behind us will feel the same.

I love the way Mardi Gras has changed and grown since our riot in ’78, but please don’t treat those of us who started it all like this ever again.

— Kate

NO RESPECT

“The revolution will not be televised.” Gil Scott-Heron’s protest piece from the ’70s still has profound meaning for today’s modern civil rights movements. If you watched the coverage of this year’s Mardi Gras on Foxtel, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

It’s ironic this year’s theme was ‘Say Something’, when Arena’s coverage of the event was muddled, ego (rather than community) centric, uncontextual, and generally a pathetic display of (well paid?) hosts who know nothing about our community’s history and landscape today. Sadly, our revolution was not televised.

Was there communication between Foxtel and New Mardi Gras in the lead-up to the event to discuss the program and (call me crazy but) the importance of actually televising the parade? To brief the hosts on the history of Mardi Gras and the diversity of participating groups/ organisations and their contributions to the community?

I’m left wondering if Foxtel was taking the piss or whether they believe the presence of stereotypical drivel from unknowledgeable hosts is somehow recognition of how far we’ve come. It was degrading. The historical passion, collective perseverance and unwavering commitment of thousands in the fight for social justice was reduced to nothing more than a flippant, vacuous, and flamboyant commercial with no meaning, no context.

It’s a sad state of affairs when a dignified message is compromised for the sake of getting anything televised at all, as is the case with Foxtel’s corporate cradling of the event, but for Dorothy’s sake Foxtel, have some respect for our community, the social and political movement that gave birth to Mardi Gras, and the people and organisations that work, volunteer and live the continued struggle to see an end to stigma and discrimination towards GLBT people from all areas of public and social life.

If you can’t televise our modern-day civil rights movement with the dignity, respect, and empowerment it deserves, please don’t televise it at all.

— Velma

SUNDAY PAPERS

WOW — what a parade and congratulations to all involved and also to all of those who organised and controlled the BGF Grandstand seating — FANTASTIC.

My other half and I sat front row in the BGF Premium seats — worth every cent — and were wowed by the Parade, the costumes, the amazing floats and the energy everyone was still showing after the long haul up Oxford and Flinders Sts to where the BGF Grandstand and seats were.

Just a couple of notes.

What happened during the parade? There were three or four very long breaks during the parade and even the commentators who gave us great and informative nonstop commentary at the BGF grandstands were lost for words.

What is it with the Sunday papers?

For an event as huge as Mardi Gras and with the numbers of people attending last Saturday night, as usual as in years past, the Sunday Herald ran a small piece and photo, this time on page five.

The Sunday Telegraph, not to be outdone, printed an even more woeful and smaller article on page 19! Disgraceful!

— William

NO TO TRAMS

The Liberals’ proposal to send trams up Oxford St seems to me to be a way for them to finally get what they have always wanted — the end of Mardi Gras.
Oxford St is only three lanes either side.

If you take out two lanes in the middle for the tracks, another two for the platforms for the trams — see the stop at Paddy’s Market for a comparable size www.youtube.com/watch?v=azccn0m6FtE — that leaves one lane for traffic — cars, buses, pushbikes and trucks.

Nowhere is mentioned the impact on local businesses. With this proposal there would be none existent on street parking along Oxford St.

This proposal is being touted by the soon-to-be NSW minister for transport Gladys Berejiklian. Ask her how she thinks the floats of Mardi Gras would fit up Oxford St, not to mention the 10 to 12-abreast marching groups squeezing between the station platforms.

—Jamieson

SUPPORT CLOVER

It’s almost certain the toxic Labor government will be thrown out on March 26.

To ensure Clover doesn’t get too much backlash from being an incumbent, the gay community should get behind her and do all we can to help her re-election.

The diverse electorate of Sydney is lucky to have someone representing them who is totally independent. She does so much for the elderly, the down-at-heel, families and many others, and she is such a supporter of the gay community.

I will be helping out at the electorate office and on election day at a polling booth.

Everyone who may have needed and may need her help, support her.

— Fred

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